Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The Supreme Court, has thrown away the application by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, to be allowed to tender a copy of President Bola Tinubu’s certificate, which he obtained from the Chicago State University, CSU, in the United States of America, USA.
Delivering judgment on the suit on Thursday, the seven-man panel of the apex court, led by Justice Inyang Okoro, held that the time constitutionally allowed for the admittance of such evidence had since expired.
The panel ruled that section 285(5) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, expressly gave the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, a 180-day lifespan to hear and determine in writing, all petitions arising from the presidential election.
It held that since the PEPC which sat as the court of first instance in the presidential dispute had delivered its verdict, no provision of the law would allow the admittance of any other evidence at the appeal stage.
According to the apex court, “the 180 days donated to the tribunal by the Constitution, expired on September 17,” hence, the Supreme Court no longer has the jurisdiction to admit fresh evidence.
Justice Okoro who delivered the lead judgment declared: “This court cannot do what the trial court is no longer constitutionally permitted to do.”
He further said that Atiku and the PDP could no longer invoke the provision of Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act.
The Supreme Court also said that the issue of forgery which Atiku sought to establish through the proposed fresh evidence, was not pleaded in any paragraph of his appeal.
According to the Supreme Court, Appellants no longer have the time to amend their case since the 21 days allowed for those that were aggrieved with the outcome of the election to file a petition, had also elapsed.
“It is crystal clear that the additional evidence did not fit into issues for determination in this appeal.